Patriots vs. Jets: New England's Biggest Winners and Losers from NFL Week 12
The Patriots capitalized on the Jets miscues and played a sound game on both sides of the ball. Some players certainly performed better than others, but a divisional win will be taken nonetheless.
Here are New England's winners and, well, "lesser winners" from Thursday night's action at MetLife Stadium.
Winner: Tom Brady and the O-Line
Tom Brady was in the driver's seat of New England's offense. Yet he wouldn't have been able to look so calm in the pocket if it weren't for the help of his friends, the offensive line.
Despite the Jets' early pressure, which led to an intentional grounding penalty, No. 12 did not get sacked. Brady's clean jersey was a result of the big men up front doing their job, despite the absence of starting left guard Logan Mankins and starting right tackle Sebastian Vollmer.
Brady managed to maneuver around the pass-rushers, completing 18-of-28 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns—good for a 139.4 passer rating.
However, it wasn't all about dropping back for Brady, since the seven-time Pro Bowler also sneaked the ball forward for five yards, first downs and touchdowns.
Winner: Steve Gregory
Against the Jets, Steve Gregory had his best game of the season and perhaps the best game of his NFL career.
In the second quarter, Gregory found himself back in position to make a play as New England linebacker Brandon Spikes dislodged the football from Jets tailback Shonn Greene. Gregory was quickly in position and recovered the fumble.
The Patriots only needed one play to get a touchdown off that turnover. And just plays later, a Mark Sanchez fumble had Gregory running the other way for a score.
By game's end, the veteran safety had totaled five tackles, a pass deflection, two fumble recoveries, an interception and a touchdown.
Loser: Visanthe Shiancoe
With Rob Gronkowski recovering from his broken forearm injury suffered last weekend, another tight end had to step into the fold.
It wasn't Visanthe Shiancoe.
Instead, the Patriots facilitated Daniel Fells as the team's No. 2 tight end option behind Aaron Hernandez. While Fells did not have a standout game, he did have a much more significant impact than Shiancoe, who recently returned from short-term injured reserve.
Fells' blocks opened up lanes, and he also snagged a pass good for a 24-yard gain. Shiancoe on the other hand, had a hard time getting on the field.
Mid-game, ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss broke down the snaps at tight end via Twitter:
From "life without Gronk" dept, Patriots have run 22 of their 31 snaps w/ 2 TEs. Daniel Fells filling Gronk role. No snaps for Shiancoe.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) November 23, 2012
Shiancoe saw more work as the game wore on, but none of it was noteworthy. The 10-year pro has 243 receptions and 27 touchdowns on his NFL resume. Yet right now, he's still third in line at tight end, even without Gronkowski.
Winner: Vince Wilfork
Vince Wilfork's triumphs don't always show up on the stat sheet.
When it comes to Wilfork, his production goes deeper than the numbers, because what he does on defense cannot be categorized.
Wilfork often finds himself absorbing two blockers at once. This takes away one side of the line by breaking down the protection. From there, he consistently makes stops in someone else's gap, thanks to his atypical athleticism and quickness.
The nine-year pro is still at the top of his game; the Jets interior blockers could attest to that.
Loser: Stephen Gostkowski
When the Patriots and Jets were tied 0-0 in the first quarter, Stephen Gostkowski missed a 39-yard field goal.
Seeing as how New England scored 35 points in the second quarter alone, the extra three points wouldn't have made a difference. Although, it is a bit concerning to see a very accurate kicker like Gostkowski miss an attempt under 40 yards in relatively ideal weather conditions.
On the season, the former Memphis Tiger has converted on 21-of-26 field goals. He has, however, missed a kick in each of the past two contests.
Winner: Julian Edelman
Julian Edelman left Thursday's contest against the Jets after getting smacked on an end-around run, which resulted in a fumble.
Edelman may be feeling the effects of that bone-jarring hit by LaRon Landry, but he can find some solace in knowing that he is now in the history books, per a tweet from ESPN Stats & Information:
Julian Edelman is the 4th player in NFL history with a receiving TD, punt return TD & fumble return TD in the same season #Versatility
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 23, 2012
The ex-Kent State quarterback flexed his versatility once again, recovering kick-return fumble in the second quarter and running in for a 22-yard touchdown.
Five minutes later, Edelman notched a touchdown by way of air, as Tom Brady found the speedster for a 56-yard score.
After years of special teams duties, Edelman is expanding his repertoire as an asset in the Patriots offense
Winner: Stevan Ridley
Stevan Ridley is well on his way to double-digit touchdowns and a 1,000-yard season. His game against the Jets was proof of that.
The LSU Tiger failed to break off a gain of more than nine yards, but he was consistent in his reps. Ridley managed to collect 97 rushing yards and a score on 21 carries out of the backfield.
It was a good game from Ridley, except for the fact he was called for a chop block in the end zone, which netted a safety for the Jets.
Winner: Shane Vereen
Shane Vereen is slowly carving out a role in the Pats backfield.
The 2011 second-round draft pick gained 42 yards on 10 rushing attempts. As a pass catcher, Vereen was also a threat, totaling two grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown.
For the first time in his short NFL career, Vereen has notched touchdowns in back-to-back games. The future is looking bright for the 23-year-old tailback.
Vereen is unlikely to take Stevan Ridley's starting spot, but the former Cal Bear is capable of taking a slice of the pie due to his quick burst and sure hands.
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